Will Muschamp has mentioned several times his frustration with South Carolina’s 2016 football season.
He wishes he hadn’t.
“Frustration means you don’t have an answer,” the Gamecocks first-year head football coach said. “We’ve got some answers and we’re going to continue to move forward. We’re going to stay positive with our football team.”
Muschamp struck an upbeat tone Sunday night as South Carolina prepares to begin the second half of its season with a non-conference game against 1-6 UMass on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“We had a great practice tonight. Guys were upbeat and enthusiastic, excited about being out there,” Muschamp said. “That’s the mentality we are going to take. I told the guys, ‘There’s enough negativity around you, we’re not going to be negative. We are going to stay positive. We’re going to correct you when it’s not right, but at the end of the day we have to continue to improve.’ ”
The Gamecocks are 2-4 overall and need to win four of their final six regular season games to qualify for a bowl game. They are expected to be favored in only two of those games – this week against UMass and against Western Carolina – but Muschamp believes he has something to build on based on what he saw in the first half of the season.
“We have had some disappointing moments through our year,” he said. But “in six games, other than the first half defensively against Mississippi State, our effort has been outstanding. I’ve got opposing coaches calling me and saying, ‘You guys are playing hard.’ At the end of the day that’s a starting point. That’s not where we want to be though.”
The Gamecocks’ fan base has been energized by the talk that true freshman quarterback Jake Bentley might play this week instead of redshirting this season. The key will be keeping up that energy for the next six games if the team continues to struggle on the scoreboard.